Brace yourself, friends, because it’s coming. The relentless scrutiny of Manti Te’o has started, and it’ll reach its crescendo this week during the Combine, and stay there until, I dunno, April 25.
Te’o doesn’t like it, because of course he doesn’t. Yesterday he said that throughout the draft process he wants his value as a player to be judged solely by his on-field performance. As I wrote then, that’s oddly both absurdly unrealistic, and an ideal, utopian thought. The question of trust and mental toughness is primarily what will prompt the intense background digging, and fair enough. But what matters is how Te’o can contribute to a team’s front seven. If said team needs a middle linebacker, then his on-field capabilities should be the central focus.
But dig, dammit, and dig deep. The teams which have already begun that process have so far come up with…nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Teams are going beyond Notre Dame, and beyond Te’o's fake dead girlfriend, and his catfishing. They’re doing that because the details of that case are well known now, and they’ll have an opportunity to sit down with the middle linebacker and question him more thoroughly at the Combine. Right now, the focus lies with his deeper past, and any indication that there’s a pattern of similar behavior from his high school days, or even further back.
According to Mike Freeman’s sources, they’ve found nothing more than what’s already known: Te’o is a genuinely good person.
“Some teams have issues with Manti and trust,” said one high-ranking team executive. “Which seems ridiculous but the issue is there.”
Teams have been conducting extensive investigations into the life and background of Te’o that includes, according to a variety of sources, going back to his high school days and beyond. They have been looking for anything controversial similar to what happened at Notre Dame when he was caught up in a historic scandal involving a fake online girlfriend. The teams have found nothing, I’m told.
Some teams have extensively interviewed Notre Dame coaches. Some teams have also looked extremely closely at all aspects of his personal life (all of this is different from the scouring the NFL itself does of prospects).
The conclusion from teams that have looked into him? Teo’s a good person who lied to cover up a humiliating situation. By every account, it doesn’t seem like his draft stock will be significantly impacted by the scandal.
And that’s how it should be. The research and investigating done on Te’o should be thorough, since the recent events in his past are so odd and unique. But as ridiculous as it is to have a fake dead girlfriend, the impact that has on Te’o the football player is nearly non-existent.
So go ahead general managers and scouts. Do your due diligence, and come back with a list of every location where Te’o has had a cup of coffee. Or worse, tell us how many cups of coffee he averages per day, and if it’s more than three, knock that draft grade down. A source tells me that JaMarcus Russell used to drink a lot of coffee, and it functioned as a gateway to purple drank.
Then once you’ve done that, turn your attention back to football where it belongs.
And now the links part of the links post…
- Sorry, Miami. Jake Long isn’t giving you a hometown discount. [Ben Volin]
- Brian Cushing is about a week away from being able to jog. [Texans.com]
- Keenan Allen, one of the top wide receivers in this year’s draft, will skip the Combine due to a knee injury. [Cat Scratch Reader]
- Take a minute to look down the list of failed NFL quarterbacks who grew up in California. It’s, um, wow. [Jason Cole]